A family holiday to Port Douglas meant a chance to activate a new association. The superficial attractiveness of the NT region for SOTA is mitigated by the fact that most of the summits are in tropical rainforest. In the time Vk4 has been live, only 2 summits have been activated in NT.
A detailed searched revealed a few possible candidates, mostly around Cairns. One, Trintity Beach, had already been activated, but I found two that are mostly drive up and worth more. There were a couple of 10 pointers that might be doable around Port Douglas but some research by Matt Vk1MA and his local connections helped eliminate these as easy time efficient options. Critical family holiday friendly attributes.
Anyway, VK4/NT-175 was picked as it had well detailed walking notes as it’s enroute to a well known, but apparently infrequently visited, lookout. In SOTA it’s known as Cairns 2, but the local name appears to be Mt Sheridan.
Anyway, exiting highway 91 on Lake Morris Drive, take note of the odometer and just before 10km there is a hairpin with a grassy clearing where one can park. The below is looking back to where to you drive from.
Note that this road is a clearly marked cycling training ground and while I saw no insane people climbing at 3pm, it was quite busy at 5pm with both cyclists and walkers, so I suggest driving up in the heat of the day. The road is extremely narrow and windy, with several single lane sections. Expect to average 30km/h up. It would be fantastic on any form of bike, motorized or not.
On the way up I passed a sign marking the start of Dinden National Park confirming this would also count as vkff 0675. I was 99% sure before this was the case. Not that I actively participate in Parks, but useful for others. I will submit the log.
The access track to the comms facility on top is obvious just around the bend. Squidpole unfriendly gate included.
It’s a 800m walk to the top but don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s that easy. It’s steep and you’ll likely be climbing in 30degree heat with 90% humidity. Enough to get the heart racing and sweat pouring.
Part way up the nicely formed gravel track will fork. Correct choice is the option on the left. The other leads to a dead end after quite a way.
Running slightly late due to the need to stop and double check the map and turning right on the walk instead of left I was somewhat behind but quickly setup along the track. No problems and one would have enough space to put up an 80m antenna provided you can clear vegetation as no squidpole supports exist clear of it.
Rig used was FT817 at 5w. Calling on 40m was fruitless, so switched to 20m where I had a nice stream of callers. I heard a reference to another parks station on 7.144, so qsyd there to try to work vk4ffab. Despite many tries and him being 59 to me, I was unheard. I did manage to pick up Fred Vk4FE in nearby Port Douglas though, and we had a decent chat. Fred had helped earlier with information regarding one of the other Summits and propagation. I may still get to Trinity Beach.
So 1 hour ten minutes of operation yielded 10 qso’s on 20m and 1 on 40m, all VK. I did change antennas and tried 15m for 10minutes but no luck. I was suffering high swr and no ATU. I really do need to tune that antenna. Like in VK6 and E5, a lot of CQing with silence and then a flurry of activity.
Given the propagation outlook with a geoeffecive coronal hole, things worked out quite well however QSB was wild and Europeans were reporting auroral effects. I was disappointed to have to shutdown as 20m was wide open to the US, but I had to be home in time for dinner. No time for dx cw. Dinner mission accomplished however.